During my younger days, when I was fit and a little bit crazy, I used to mountain bike, and I don’t mean just on nice little rails to trails, I am talking serious, through the woods, over trees, covered with mud type of serious. I even belonged to a biking brotherhood of which I was the only girl.
The guys in the group decided to do some racing, so being competitive I said, sign me up! After about a month of training we drove several hours to the big race. It was four – 4 mile laps through the woods.
My goal in this race – don’t finish last! That was pretty much also my philosophy in life and in all other competitions. The race was going well – I was in the middle of the pack, which I was very excited about, then I heard a grinding noise and I looked down to see my chain was busted.
I was about 1.5 miles into my second lap, but I didn’t have the tools to fix the chain, so I pushed my bike back to the start, watching all these racers fly by me. It was a pretty quick fix with the right tools and I was back in the race, only by this time I was over one lap behind everyone and they made me start that lap again.
My pride said quit! No one would blame you for quiting because your bike broke….but yet there was another part of me that said, you need to finish what you started.
I made the decision to get back in the race, knowing full well that I would surely come in last. It was mentally very challenging, knowing that everyone around me was finishing and I still had one lap to go, but I pressed on and I finished! I finished last. Coming across that finish line was hard as I looked and saw only my brotherhood friends were left standing at the line to cheer me on – while everyone else was off to get their lunch and receive their awards.
I learned a very valuable ministry and life lesson that day – don’t quit when things get hard. It is not about winning the race, it is about finishing the race.
So many times in ministry I just wanted to quit, like when the pastor called me into the office to tell me that Joey was no longer coming to youth group because his mom said you were picking on him (Although Joey never told his mom that he was the one that was making fun of one of the students – His mom did then apologize). Or you come home from an awesome week at camp to find out that your students left dodgeballs all through the sanctuary from the night before they left for the trip. Or when you feel like you are alone because “hey we hired you to be the youth leader, why do we need to help?”
The list of reasons for wanting to quit are endless, and maybe your list is longer and/or more intense than my list, but I encourage you to stay the course, pick yourself up, fix the repairs, and begin again even if it means you may have to start over. Don’t quit because you are too prideful to come in last, because your reward for being faithful is well worth pushing yourself back to the start and trying again.
For me, it was well worth it – though I came in last, I won a first place medal and a cash prize in that bike race! But our spiritual prize for being faithful and finishing the race will be well worth all the pain, effort, and sacrifice.